NEWS   SATURDAY, APRIL  15, 2017   NEWS

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Former Football Star Acquitted In 2012 Double-Murder By Jury
A jury on Friday acquitted former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez in the 2012 shooting deaths of two men he encountered at a Boston nightclub. They reached a verdict nearly two years to the day after the former NFL star was convicted in another killing. Jurors deliberated first-degree murder charges against Hernandez for more than 40 hours over six days. Hernandez was accused of fatally shooting Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in 2012. Prosecutors said the former football player opened fire on their car because he felt disrespected when one of the men bumped into him and spilled his drink at a Boston nightclub. Fox News
VOA VIEW: Confusing acquittal.

Army Charges Retired General With Rape Against A Minor In The 1980s
The Army on Friday announced rape charges against a retired general for multiple assaults against a minor dating to the 1980s.  Retired Maj. Gen. James Grazioplene is charged with six charges of rape of a minor between 1983 and 1989, the Army announced. The criminal investigation remains open, according to the Army.  Grazioplene, in a brief interview by phone, declined to comment and expressed surprise that the Army had announced the charges. He is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Grazioplene, an armor officer, retired in 2005. As retiree, he is still subject to military law, the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The military has been rocked in recent months by a series of sexual scandals involving top officers. Grazioplene’s is the most serious of the recent spate, which has involved top brass found carousing at strip bars, involved in extramarital affairs and involved in “swinging lifestyles.”USA Today

NSA's Powerful Windows Hacking Tools Leaked Online
A hacking group has dumped a collection of spy tools allegedly used by the National Security Agency online. Experts say they are damaging. The exploits, published by the Shadow Brokers on Friday, contain vulnerabilities in Windows computers and servers. They may have been used to target a global banking system. One collection of 15 exploits contains at least four Windows hacks that researches have already been able to replicate. "This is quite possibly the most damaging thing I've seen in the last several years," said Matthew Hickey, founder of security firm Hacker House. "This puts a powerful nation state-level attack tool in the hands of anyone who wants to download it to start targeting servers." CNN
VOA VIEW: Free speech has its negatives.

Hyland's Homeopathic Teething Tablets Recalled Nationwide
Any remaining Hyland's homeopathic teething products are now being removed from store shelves under a major recall. Two types of the teething products, which previously were linked to the deaths of 10 children, have been recalled, the Food and Drug Administration announced on Thursday. Standard Homeopathic Company, the Los Angeles-based maker of Hyland's homeopathic teething products, recalled all of its teething tablets and nighttime teething tablets, the announcement said. The FDA concluded that the products have mislabeled the amounts of belladonna alkaloids they contain. CNN

Feds Collect Record Income And Payroll Taxes Through March--Still Run $526,855,000,000 Deficit
The federal government collected record amounts of both individual income taxes and payroll taxes through the first six months of fiscal 2017 (Oct. 1, 2016 through the end of March), according to the Monthly Treasury Statement. Through March, the federal government collected approximately $695,391,000,000 in individual income taxes. That is about $7,387,280,000 more than the $688,003,720,000 in individual income taxes (in constant 2017 dollars) that the federal government collected in the first six months of fiscal 2016. CNS News

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Trump In Weekly Address: ‘One Of The Gravest Threats To Religious Freedom’ Is Terrorism
In his weekly presidential address commemorating the Easter holiday, President Donald Trump condemned the ISIS attacks on Christian churches in Egypt. “This Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ and the promise of eternal salvation. It is a holy day of reverence and worship. It is a sacred time that fills the spirit of our nation with the faith of our people,” Trump said. “America is a nation of believers,” and from the beginning, it has “cherished the freedom of worship.” “That is the promise the first settlers saw in our vast continent, and it is the promise that our bravest warriors have protected for all of our citizens in centuries since, a long time ago. Sadly, many around the globe do not enjoy this freedom—and one of the gravest threats to religious freedom remains the threat of terror,” he said. CNS

Trump Administration Drops North Carolina 'Bathroom Bill' Lawsuit
The Trump administration on Friday dropped a lawsuit accusing North Carolina of discriminating against LGBT residents after the state replaced its "bathroom bill", although a key civil liberties group vowed to keep fighting the new law in court. In a two-sentence court filing the Justice Department said it had dropped its lawsuit, filed last year by the Obama administration, because the North Carolina legislature had replaced it with a new law called House Bill 142. The filing marks the first significant move in a complicated legal battle challenging the state's nondiscrimination laws since the replacement of the original law, known as House Bill 2 or more commonly as the "bathroom bill." Reuters
VOA VIEW: A waste of time and money.

Motorists In U.S. Drove 1.9 Percent More Miles In February
Motorists traveled 233.4 billion miles (376 billion km) on U.S. roads and highways in February, a 1.9 percent increase over the same period last year, according to monthly U.S. Department of Transportation figures released on Friday. U.S. demand has been closely watched in the oil market, because supply overhang caused a price-rout beginning in 2014. Reuters

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AG Sessions Vows To Confront Cartels, Gangs On Visit To US-Mexico Border
Attorney General Jeff Sessions called Tuesday for a new focus on immigration enforcement during his first visit as the nation’s top law enforcement officer to the U.S.-Mexico border, vowing to confront the gangs and cartels plaguing the region and declaring: “This is a new era, this is the Trump era.” Sessions met with law enforcement, members of the military and border agents in Nogales, Ariz., urging their confidence in the administration as they push to implement policies boosting agents working to secure the southern border. The tone of his comments at times echoed the explicit rhetoric President Trump himself used when discussing illegal immigration and cartels during the campaign. Fox News

North Korean Nuclear Test Will Be When Leaders See Fit
North Korea's vice foreign minister says it will conduct its next nuclear test whenever its supreme headquarters sees fit. Vice Minister Han Song Ryol made the comments in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press in Pyongyang on Friday. He also said the situation on the Korean Peninsula was in a "vicious cycle" as tensions with the U.S. and its allies deepen. MSNBC
VOA VIEW: North Korea will do what it wants - they have a nut job as head.

Panetta: Trump Is Risking Nuclear War With North Korea
Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warned Friday that the strong rhetoric coming from President Donald Trump's administration toward North Korea could escalate tensions. "The words from the administration are creating even higher volume in terms of the provocations that are going on. I think we have got to be careful here," Panetta told NBC News' Andrea Mitchell. "We should not engage in any precipitous action. There is a reason no U.S. president in recent history has pulled the trigger on North Korea." MSNBC
VOA VIEW: It is best dealing with North Korea when the world is on our side.

Trump Won’t Release White House Visitor Logs, Reverses Obama Policy
The White House said Friday it won’t make public the names of visitors to the White House complex, breaking with the practice of President Trump’s predecessor. Senior White House officials confirmed that they won’t release visitor logs due to privacy and national security concerns, saying the move is consistent with previous administrations — except for President Obama’s. White House Communications Director Michael Dubke cited “grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.” “The White House Office will disclose Secret Service logs as outlined under the Freedom of Information Act, a position the Obama White House successfully defended in federal court,” Mr. Dubke said. But the Obama White House, after some litigation, posted the records of visitors online in a searchable database — nearly 6 million names in all. The previous administration deleted some names from the logs for national security and other reasons. Washington Times

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Warren Chides Trump After MOAB Strike On ISIS: ‘He’s Gotta Come In And Explain Himself’
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren told reporters after the U.S. military dropped a massive bomb on terrorist tunnels in Afghanistan that President Donald Trump must “explain himself.” The 45th commander in chief permitted the Pentagon to drop its GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) on an ISIS-K (the Khorasan group) target on Thursday. Ms. Warren demanded to know why the “Mother of All Bombs” was dropped in the region. “One of the things we want to know is, ‘what was the impact on civilians?’ It’s powerfully important,” the senator told reporters on Thursday. “You know, you go back to [retired] Gen. [Stanley] McChrystal about the importance of knowing who gets killed in these attacks because that’s the real question about our future’s safety. Who’s going to be out there fighting us in the future?” Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Warren is a liberal big mouth.

Trump's Shift Away From "America First" Stance Polarizes Supporters
President Donald Trump’s seeming shift away from an “America first” foreign policy approach is polarizing his supporters, with some disillusioned, and others embracing his recent military actions. Last week, the U.S. carried out a missile strike on a Syria airbase in response to an apparent chemical attack, and then on Thursday for the the first time used the of the “mother of all bombs” on an underground tunnel system ISIS uses in Afghanistan. These actions, which came as the White House weighs what to do in the event of a North Korea nuclear test, clearly pivot from Mr. Trump’s previous, semi-isolationist stance. Mr. Trump on the campaign trail espoused his “America first” philosophy, saying he would beef up America’s military presence, but avoid tumultuous areas like the Middle East to focus on American interests. CBS
VOA VIEW: Time will tell - Trump seems to have changed.

Secret Service Costs For Trump Family Protection Continue To Mount
With Eric Trump’s trip to the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland this week, the international hotel and car rental costs for the Secret Service agents who protect him and his brother Donald Trump Jr. have topped $190,000 since January 1st, according to a review of purchasing orders by CBS News.  All of those bills are paid by taxpayers. Documents for Eric Trump’s trip this week to Dublin show that $4,029.85 was spent on limousines for his visit and $11,261 to cover the hotel costs of the Secret Service agents who protect him. CBS

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Apple given permission to test self-driving cars in California
The California Department of Motor Vehicles has granted Apple a permit allowing it to begin testing self-driving cars on public roads. The DMV updated its list of manufacturers testing self-driving cars on Friday, with Apple becoming the 30th company to be granted permission. Few details have been revealed about Apple's plans for self-driving cars, according to Autotrader executive analyst Michelle Krebs. But she said Apple could be a "major player" in the autonomous vehicle industry. ABC

U.S. Urges China To Open Trade After Sparing It Manipulator Tag
The U.S. stopped short of branding China a currency manipulator, but urged the world’s second-largest economy to let the yuan rise with market forces and embrace more trade. No major trading partner is manipulating its currency for an unfair trade advantage, according to the first foreign-currency report released by the Treasury Department under President Donald Trump on Friday. It kept China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Germany and Switzerland on its foreign-exchange monitoring list. Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: China is a currency manipulator.

Trump's 'Deportation Force' Begins To Take Shape
President Trump's campaign promise for more aggressive immigration enforcement -- from building a "big, beautiful" wall to creating a "deportation force" -- has begun to become reality, according to a Department of Homeland Security draft progress report reviewed by ABC News. A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official confirmed to ABC News the authenticity of the draft, which was obtained and first reported by The Washington Post. However, a department spokesperson downplayed the memo as an early draft and said DHS does not comment on "pre-decisional" documents. ABC

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Trump's Policies And Jibes Suggest Bannon's Star Is Fading
President Donald Trump’s message this week to his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, was hard to misunderstand: I’m president and you’re not. Trump’s policy decisions this week sharply departed from Bannon’s nationalist, “America First” ideology, and the president’s cutting remarks to the press downplaying Bannon’s role in the White House led to questions about the adviser’s future in the administration. Trump on Wednesday touted an expansion of NATO at a news conference where Bannon, a skeptic of the alliance, sat in the front row. The same day, Trump told the Wall Street Journal he wouldn’t declare China a currency manipulator -- breaking a major campaign promise -- backed the U.S. Export-Import Bank and continued low interest rates, and said he might keep Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen in her job after her term expires next year. Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: Trump will lose support if he becomes Washington.

Pope Speaks Of Humanity’s ‘Shame’ In Good Friday Procession
Thousands of people, including nuns, families with toddlers, and young tourists, endured exceptionally tight anti-terrorism checks to pray at the Good Friday procession at the Colosseum, where Pope Francis expressed shame over humanity's failings. Francis, wearing a plain white coat, presided over the traditional, evening Way of the Cross procession from a rise overlooking the popular tourist monument as faithful took turns carrying a tall cross and meditations were recited to encourage reflection on Jesus' suffering and crucifixion. Las Vegas Sun

Lobbying By Trump Associates Highlights Foreign Agent Law
Paul Manafort says he's registering with the Justice Department as a foreign agent. Michael Flynn already has. In both cases, the filings by these associates of President Donald Trump come late — after the lobbying has already taken place — and accompanied by an admission that they violated federal law. The high-profile filings are putting a spotlight on the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a law enacted before World War II with the goal of unmasking foreign influence campaigns in the U.S. The idea was simple: Lobbyists and others who work on behalf of a foreign government or political interest must disclose their work to sway public opinion and U.S. policy to the Justice Department and to the public. Las Vegas Sun

European Agencies Gave Trump-Russia Intelligence To U.S.
British and other European intelligence agencies intercepted communication between members of Donald Trump's campaign team and Russian officials and passed that information on to the United States, intelligence sources said. Anonymous U.S. and British intelligence sources told The Guardian that the Government Communications Headquarters intelligence agency played a crucial role in telling U.S. intelligence agencies about the alleged communication between Trump's associates and Russian intelligence operatives. UPI

Water Better For Young Athletes Than Sports Drinks, Experts Say
Water is a better bet than sports drinks for young athletes, sports medicine specialists say. Most youngsters don't exert themselves at an intensity or duration that requires the extra sugar and salt contained in sports drinks, said Dr. Matthew Silvis. He is director of primary care sports medicine at Penn State Health Medical Center. "Sports drinks can replenish some of what you lost during exercise, but you really need to be exercising for more than 45 minutes to an hour before you would consider that," Silvis said. "Many of our kids are not doing enough to warrant it," he added in a university news release. UPI

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TRUMP FACES RENEWED ACCUSATIONS OF ANTISEMITISM
US President Donald Trump's administration has faced a myriad of accusations throughout the president's first hundred days in office regarding what has been perceived by some as the White House's insufficient stance on the battle against antisemitism. Such accusations arose again on Friday following recent reports that the president is seriously considering nixing the State Department post of Special Antisemitism Envoy as part of Trump's much-debated plan to pursue significant budget cuts. Jerusalem Post
VOA VIEW: A dumb thought.

IN BATTLE FOR MOSUL, NEW US STRATEGY TAKES SHAPE
The tactical assembly area for US forces south of Mosul is as nondescript as could possibly be. In a nearby field the M109 Paladin howitzers – mobile artillery that drives around on tank treads – nestle amid earthen berms. Their supply vehicles are dug in behind them. The field is full of mud, odd for northern Iraq, but it had been raining a lot in late March. Lt. Micah Thompson, a platoon leader, says “we have the capability to address all targets; the point of the Paladin is a mobile artillery system. The fight that we bring is the precision munition capability. We are able to program and set those fuses and provide those rounds downrange in rapid time in order to accomplish [our task].” He’s one of the recent generation of US Army soldiers serving in Iraq, and he’s enthusiastic about providing fire support to the Iraqi security personnel who are slowly clearing Mosul of Islamic State fighters. Jerusalem Post

MOAB Strike: US Military Defends Use Of Massive Bomb In Afghanistan
The top US military commander in Afghanistan says the decision to use a powerful bomb in the country was based purely on tactical considerations. Gen John Nicholson said the most powerful non-nuclear bomb ever used by the US in combat had been the right weapon to target a suspected Islamic State (IS) base in Nangarhar province. A 300m (328yds) long network of tunnels and caves was destroyed, he said. The US coordinated the attack with Afghanistan, Afghan officials said. About 36 suspected militants were killed, according to Afghan officials, but IS has denied suffering any casualties. BBC

Trump Signs Measure Targeting Planned Parenthood Funding
The legislation removes an Obama-era rule that prohibited states from withholding funding for family planning services that provide abortions. A Republican-led Congress passed the measure last month with Vice President Mike Pence casting a tie-breaking vote. Republicans have long vowed to defund the group over the issue of abortions. Planned Parenthood, a reproductive health organisation, provides birth control, STD testing, cancer screenings, breast examinations and pregnancy terminations. BBC

Former Trump Adviser Carter Page Held 'Strong Pro-Kremlin Views'
A former adviser to Donald Trump who is at the centre of an FBI investigation was exhibiting “strongly pro-Kremlin” ideology almost two decades ago, his former employer has told the Guardian. Carter Page, who was reportedly being monitored by the FBI last summer because of suspicions about his ties to Russia, was hired in 1998 by the Eurasia Group, a major US consulting firm that advises banks and multinational corporations, but left the firm shortly thereafter. Guardian

Chris Christie Rips 'Liar' Eli Manning: 'He Got Caught' In Fake Memorabilia Scheme
New Jersey governor Chris Christie blasted Eli Manning as a “liar” following the release of an email suggesting the New York Giants quarterback was knowingly involved in a fake sports memorabilia scheme. “He got caught,” Christie said on Friday during a guest-hosting appearance on the Boomer & Carton morning show on WFAN 660-AM in New York. Christie, who is reportedly exploring a career in sports talk radio after his term ends, spared no criticism of “the liar Eli Manning” while discussing the unfolding lawsuit. Manning turned over the potentially incriminating email during the discovery process of a lawsuit that alleges the quarterback, the Giants and a team equipment manager knowingly provided false game-worn memorabilia to collectors. It was subsequently included in a court filing this week in Bergen County (New Jersey) Superior Court by the plaintiffs: collectors Eric Inselberg, Michael Jakab and Sean Godown. Guardian

Rogue States Like Iran Face Tougher Action As US Says Nuclear Attack By North Korea 'Closer Than Ever'
Rogue states such as Iran face tougher military action from America under Donald Trump, the director of the CIA has warned, as he said the US is “closer now than we have ever been” to the threat of nuclear missiles from North Korea. Mike Pompeo urged Iran to “take note” that Donald Trump’s missile strikes against the Syrian military were a sign the White House was “prepared to engage in activities that are different from what America has been doing these past few years”. Telegraph

Bashar Al-Assad Still Has 'Hundreds Of Tonnes' Of Chemicals Stockpiled, Former Syrian Weapons Research Chief Claims
resident Bashar al-Assad continues to retain hundreds of tonnes of his country's chemical stockpile after deceiving United Nations inspectors sent in to dismantle it, according to Syria’s former chemical weapons research chief and other experts. Brigadier-General Zaher al-Sakat – who served as head of chemical warfare in the powerful 5th Division of the military until he defected in 2013 – told the Telegraph Assad’s regime failed to declare large amounts of sarin precursor chemicals and other toxic materials. Telegraph

UN Food Relief Agency 'Outraged And Heartbroken' By Killing Of Three Workers In South Sudan City
Expressing “horror” at the killing of three workers contracted by its office in Wau, South Sudan, during violence that wracked the city earlier this week, the United Nations emergency food relief agency has called on the authorities to bring those responsible for the “unspeakable violence” to justice. In a news release today, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said that the three men – Daniel James, Ecsa Tearp and Ali Elario, all citizens of South Sudan – appeared to have been killed on Monday as they tried to make their way to the UN agency's warehouse, where they worked as porters. Two died of machete wounds and the third was shot. UN News

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